Slideshow: Roundup: Fish Taco Chains in Southern California

Baja Fish Tacos
Baja Fish Tacos
Baja Fish Tacos didn't enter the scene until 1996. (Note: they should not be confused with Baja Fresh.) But ever since the mini-chain started to expand they've quickly become one of the favorites—and in my opinion the best. Better than forefathers Rubio's and Wahoo's.

They have three fish options: charbroiled ($2.75), blackened (pictured here, underneath all that cabbage; $3), and the "Ensenada style" (fried; $3). The charbroiled are really simple and fresh-tasting as opposed to others out there (which can taste like nothing). The blackened one offers more of a zing. And the fried...

Baja Fish Tacos: Multiple locations; bajafishtacos.net

Baja Fish tacos 2
Baja Fish tacos 2
it was tasty!
Rubio's
Rubio's
If you're driving down the 5 freeway, especially near San Diego, odds are you'll spot a Rubio's in a shopping center every ten minutes. Yes, it's a chain, but it was arguably the original. Plus they have $1.25 Taco Tuesdays (major points).

The "World Famous Fish Taco" refers to the Ensenada-style approach available on either a soft corn or thick flour (flour? they lose fish taco purism points there) tortilla with a drizzle of their house tangy, mayonnaisey white sauce. Or if you want the grilled fish, get the Mahi Mahi taco, which comes topped with guacamole and cheese shrivels.

Rubios: Multiple locations; rubios.com.

[Flickr: star5112]
Las Golondrinas
Las Golondrinas
Of the chains, "Las Gol" (localspeak) feels the most like a rundown taqueria. They only do the Ensenada-style ($2.65 or half-price for Taco Tuesdays), served with cabbage of course and, here's a new one, tarter sauce. It's a little distracting, and much better when doused with fresh salsa.

Don't come here for the fish tacos though. Get the carnitas instead, or if you're really feeling crazy, a "Big Dave" 1.45-pounder burrito. Either way, absolutely grab a bag of the fresh tortilla chips stacked near the register. The bags are probably still cloudy from all the chip steam.

Las Golondrinas: Multiple locations; lasgolondrinas.biz

Chronic Tacos
Chronic Tacos
These are referred to as "Fatty Tacos" ($3.80 normally or $2.99 on Taco Tuesdays) on the menu for a reason. Overstuffed to almost burrito extremes, they go berserk with toppings. It's kind of like a Subway experience multiplied by tacos—you follow the taco-maker along to each garnish receptacle from behind the glass. Cabbage or lettuce, cheese, sour cream, onions, tomatoes and that mystery "Chronic sauce" (what goes by Baja sauce at most other spots—more on that in a second).

The spicy mahi-mahi (pictured here) is grilled to order and still warm, underneath all those crunchy toppings.

Chronic Tacos: Multiple locations; eatchronictacos.com

Chronic Tacos
Chronic Tacos
This is their Ensenada-style covered with the namesake sauce, which you either love or find repulsive. (I am in the latter camp though all of my friends and maybe the majority of humanity disagree.)
Del Taco
Del Taco
And then there's Del Taco. Sigh. The wimpiest, saddest excuse for a fish taco ($1.79). It actually looks better here than it tasted (which was like rotten, shriveled nuggets on a stale tortilla). After patronizing the drive-through way too many times in high school, I really wanted to like this one.

But, alas. We actually had to order a Triple Del Cheeseburger to get the taste out of our mouths.

Del Taco: Multiple locations; deltaco.com